Sunday, September 06, 2015

Sunday Reading, Salvation and Sovereignty by Kenneth Keathley

indexFor my Sunday reading this week I am reading in a different area than I normally do – systematic theology. The book is Salvation and Sovereignty, by Ken Keathley, a faculty member at Southeastern Seminary. I met Ken last year at the Gospel Days celebration in Palau and then spent some time with him in North Carolina at the seminary last Fall. Our new student development staff, Jonathan and Nikki Heimbach, are from Southeastern, so there are other connections as well. Ken and I had a few theological discussions over several days and he introduced me to his Molinist view of the interaction between God’s sovereignty and human choice in salvation. I do think there is a need for a mediating view in this controversy. I appreciate Ken’s spirit in the book as he seeks a better understanding of God’s word and brotherly connection with those who disagree. I wish all theological discussions were so irenic. As an Old Testament exegete I am not so convinced of meticulous sovereignty and I am looking forward to reading what Ken has to say about it. You can join the discussion on my Facebook page. Today I am reading the introduction to the book.

Basically Molinism attempts to reconcile God’s meticulous sovereignty (the idea that everything that happens is caused/willed by God) with the idea that human beings make free choices for which they are responsible. It is called Molinism after its first proponent Luis Molina a 16th century Jesuit priest. Basically he is proposing a “middle way” between Calvinism and Arminianism.

Simply put, Molinism argues that God perfectly accomplishes His will in free creatures through the use of His omniscience. It reconciles two crucial biblical truths: (1) God exercises sovereign control over all His creation, and (2) human beings make free choices and decisions for which they must give account. 3-4

Ken is going to argue against TULIP, the 5 tenets of Calvinism, by denying the L and the I, limited atonement and irresistible grace and redefining total depravity, unconditional election and perseverance of the saints. He proposes the ROSES acronym of radical depravity, overcoming grace, sovereign election, eternal life and singular redemption. Subsequent chapters of the book will explain and argue for each of these points. I am looking forward to reading his discussion about how meticulous sovereignty can be reconciled with God’s loving character.

The Molinist model is the only game in town for anyone who wishes to affirm a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to a genuine definition of human choice, freedom, and responsibility. 5

The attractiveness of Molinism is that it presents a logically coherent view of providence, which holds that God is meticulously sovereign, while at the same time humans are genuinely free. 8

I appreciate that Ken recognizes that nobody has the final answer to the “mystery of salvation.” Part of the reason that we have these controversies is that the Bible does not explain these things in the way we would like. God gets to propose the questions the Bible answers, not us. Nevertheless, it is a good thing to have this conversation in order to sharpen our understanding of God’s word. If we love each other like brothers we can disagree in a way that allows all of us to grow. So, again I am looking forward to working my way through this book and invite you to join me.

The goal is not to explain that which God has left unrevealed, but to demonstrate that it is not irrational to believe in the simultaneous existence of the sovereign God of the Bible and creatures endowed with genuine, responsible freedom. 12

1 comment:

Joemack Akilang said...

that's great, I'd love to read that book.